If you have been a sole trader or a freelancer for a long time, you might have grown used to the idea of doing everything for yourself. However, it is often the case that small businesses revolving around one person eventually grow into too much work for that individual to handle, and soon enough, your one-man band is looking like it’s going to become a double act.
Hiring a first-ever employee for your business is a big deal. No matter what role you are recruiting them to do, it is probable that you are looking for someone who is similar enough to you that you will get on with them while you work, but also someone who will have a different set of skills and experience to you, in order to maximise your business.
In this article, we will take a look at what you need to do in order to make your first hire a successful one.
Do you really need an employee?
Perhaps the first thing that you need to consider if you are planning to hire a first employee is whether or not you actually need that employee. It may be the case that you are swamped with work and you need someone to help you with the day-to-day tasks. Alternatively, you might be struggling with a certain aspect of the business (such as accountancy, project management or sales).
But hiring an employee is just one option of many when it comes to solutions to these problems. For example, you might find that hiring a temporary employee is the right move, or that it would be easier to get the skills that you need by outsourcing those needs to another business.
Preparing to take on a member of staff
If you have decided that you are going to take on a new member of staff, it is important that you follow all the appropriate steps. This ensures that you are hiring someone correctly and legally.
The steps that you need to take to prepare for hiring a member of staff include:
- Register as an employer with HMRC – you must be registered with HMRC within four weeks of taking on a new member of staff.
- Carry out any relevant checks – you may need to carry out checks on the person you are considering employing. Depending on the industry you are in, it may be necessary for a member of staff to pass a background check.
- Provide a statement of employment and a contract of employment – you must provide the new member of staff with a statement of employment, which discusses the conditions of employment in your business. You should also provide a contract of employment, which outlines the employee’s rights, responsibilities, and working conditions.
- Get the insurance you need – once again, depending on the type of business you may need a specific type of insurance.
Common pitfalls of recruiting
One of the common mistakes made by those recruiting their first staff member is that they don’t understand the legal complexities of doing so. It is more than just signing a contract and making sure that someone gets paid.
“Most business owners are specialists in their industry in which they wish to launch their business,” says Chris Plumridge, Director at Wellden Turnbull, an accountancy firm specialising in helping small businesses grow “however they may not be as knowledgeable when it comes to dealing with the associated legal and financial aspects of setting up a business. There are often hidden costs such as insurance, licences, taxes and more”.
It is a great idea to work with experts in employment law and contracts to ensure that you are doing everything by the book. The last thing you want is to face a fine simply because you didn’t know the facts.
Why using a recruitment agency will benefit you
One option that many first-time recruiters take when they want to find their first employee is working with a recruitment agency. There are advantages here: doing so can take a lot of the work out of finding the right person and dealing with the recruitment process. With the changing face of recruitment moving to a far more candidate-led market in recent years, accessing the skills of an agency allows you to tap into their experience of the modern recruitment scene.
Having a knowledgeable recruiter on hand will remove many of the frustrations of independent recruitment and help you to:
- manage your expectations
- organise the selection process
- create a timely interview process.
Of course, using a recruitment agency does come with a fee, which can make the hire actually significantly more expensive and eat into the budget that you want to use on the additional employee. There is also the worry that you leave yourself exposed to not understanding how to independently recruit for your company.
These are valid points and many growing businesses choose to successfully recruit by themselves. It is simply one of many business growth judgement calls that you will face. Doubling the team is a big step. Are you sufficiently equipped to take that next step on your own, or do you need to call on others to achieve all elements of that goal? Your ideal first employee offers great potential to your business, and investing wisely will reap strong rewards.